By Richard Crouse Metro – Canada
The show Lost propelled Evangeline Lilly from unknown model to television star.
For six seasons she played Kate Austen on the hit series, earned a Golden Globe nomination, numerous Sexiest Women in the World titles and became the face of L’Oreal Paris.
But the trappings of fame didn’t sit well with the Alberta-born actress. “I’m a small town Canadian girl,” she says. “It just doesn’t jive with me.”
So instead of looking for the next big thing following Lost’s 2010 finale, she took a step back.
“My resolve to retire came when I realized it was actually the job itself that was killing me. I’m a very undramatic woman. I keep my life very simple. I don’t have a lot of emotional energy to spend. I don’t argue with my spouse. I don’t make drama where there doesn’t need to be any. I don’t have girlfriends who are dramatic. I just can’t stomach it.
“Having a job that required that I be at the height of drama emotionally for 14 hours a day, all day, every week for six years running was doing bad things to my health, to my psyche. I wasn’t in a good place. I really believe if you’re not happy, get out. It doesn’t matter how much someone is paying you or how famous you’ve become, it’s not worth it if you’re not happy and you’re not healthy.”
It took Peter Jackson and a plum role in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug to bring her out of self-imposed seclusion.
“When they asked me I was three months out of giving birth to my first son,” she says. “I thought I had retired to a life of writing and motherhood. I thought I was done with acting. And then he called. I thought, ‘This is too huge of an honour. I can’t say no to this. This is something I had dreamed about since I was a little girl,’ so I took the job.”
In the action-adventure she plays Tauriel, a 600-year-old wood elf created specially for the film. She says the character is “driven by her desire to help the vulnerable and the weak.”
We’ll see her again as Tauriel next year in The Hobbit: There and Back Again and after that, who knows, although she says, shooting The Desolation of Smaug in New Zealand was “such a positive experience that it has actually changed my mind about my profession.”
On powerful females
Evangeline Lilly likes the soft side of her current role. “One of the things I struggle with, with powerful female roles in the media right now, is that often they are associated with male violence. If a woman can kill and slaughter like a man then suddenly she’s a powerful woman, which I actually think diminishes her power. I don’t think that makes them powerful. I like that this character is a softhearted compassionate elf driven out of her need for justice and her seeking of the truth. I think that is more a distinct female power. I think in the past vulnerability and compassion have been associated with weakness and I think they give a woman her power.”